The iconic iron-wrought structure had been present for my entire stay in Paris, peeking over a building or down one of the many streets we explored over the previous two days. Yet, the Eiffel Tower only became our destination on the last morning we spent in the city—and what a way to say goodbye it was.
We exited the metro on the opposite side of the Seine River, just out of sight of the tower. Without realizing how close we were, we turned a corner and were suddenly greeted by the phenomenal view you see above. Exclamations of joy flew from the lips of my fellow students as we all rushed closer to take photos and enjoy one of the most iconic spaces in the world.
After a 30-minute bout of selfies and group photos, we moved to the monument itself, crossing a crowded bridge over the Seine and into the Park Champs de Mars which surrounds the Eiffel Tower. I was amazed at the fortune that it must cost to live in the old buildings which were but fifty yards from the entrance gates of the tower. The beauty of the park alone would make a house’s price skyrocket in the USA, but to add such a historic, Romantic centerpiece to that… What a dream it must be to live in this part of Paris.
Minutes later, though, my romanticism about the community was tempered by the long security checks and ticket lines, the incessant babble of tourists and cries of roaming vendors selling cheap souvenirs. I realized that the inhabitants of this area were likely more annoyed by the touristy masses of the Eiffel Tower than entranced by it—though I couldn’t imagine they regret living where they do.
We took the cheapest way up, climbing hundreds of stairs in the towers southern leg. As taxing as it was, the slow ascent allowed me more time to appreciate the unique experience of climbing among the iron lattices, watching as the tower’s pinnacle got closer and closer. We were unfortunately unable to go all the way to the top, but the view from the second tier was more than satisfying to me. The patterns of Paris’ chaotic streets became apparent in criss-crossing and intertwining lines etched into the cityscape. The various monuments appeared so close to one another and it was bewildering to think that so much history could be packed into such a small area.
The Eiffel Tower was constructed between 1887-89 by the engineer Gustav Eiffel as the entrance to the 1989 World’s Fair. It was initially criticized by many Parisian artists, but their protests were silenced as the monument became an icon of the city. Yet, Mr. Eiffel only had permission for the structure to stand for twenty years and he pondered greatly on how to preserve what he believed to be his greatest masterpiece. He eventually installed a wireless telegraph transmitter to the top of the tower which, as he anticipated, became an absolutely integral part of the city. Since no other location in Paris could match the tower’s height or central location, the city government allowed the tower to stand.
The Eiffel Tower was as magical as I imagined it would be and I am grateful that I saw it over EuroTour. It is something every visitor to Paris should see, but not bother devoting time to on return trips. Paris has so much more to offer than its iconic sights and, when I inevitably return one day, I am grateful that because of EuroTour I won’t feel obligated to devote precious hours to the tower. That said, the sight of it will doubtless send me back to fond memories of that hour or so of peace I had, looking across the City of Lights with my friends.